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The Real Origins Of Octoberfest

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Octoberfest, annually held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, is the largest beer festival around the world.  It is a 16-day beer party that usually starts from mid or late September and ends on the first weekend of October.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Girl in front of Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest tent.
photo: Markburger83 at English Wikipedia , WikimediaCC BY-SA 3.0

Octoberfest is also one of the biggest and most lucrative tourist attractions of Munich.  It attracts more than 6 million people from around the world every year.

Oktoberfest (2003), Munich
photo: uk:Gutsuluk:Oktoberfest bierzelt.JPG,WikimidiaCC BY-SA 3.0

The Octoberfest festival started when Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on the 12th of October in 1810.  The citizens of Munich were called to join the Royal event which was held on the field in front of the city gates.  The field is called Theresienwiese, which was named after Ludwig’s wife Therese. The locals simply call it “Wiesn".

Wiesn At Night
photo: Steffen Hausmann/FlickrCC BY 2.0

Originally, the festivities started on the 12th of October and ended on the 17th.  To end the celebration, the festival conducted a horse race.  Later, Octoberfest was eventually extended from a 5-day to a 16-day celebration and moved earlier to September for better weather conditions.

Horse Race Portrait- Octoberfest 1823

photo: Heinrich AdamWikimedia domain

Octoberfest has changed through the years.  The horse race ended in 1960 and the agricultural show celebrates only every four years. The festival is still held in the same place - Theresienwiese.  The Wiesn has been transformed into a place of beer tents, arcades, rides, booths of foods and lots of performers.

Oktoberfest in Munich: Inside the Tent
photo: Roman Boed/FlickrCC BY 2.0

The largest Octoberfest celebration outside Germany takes place every year in Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada, where a large native German population lives.  Oktoberfest Zinzinnati festival is also the largest Octoberfest celebration in the USA, usually held in Downtown Cincinnati, OH.

Video: OCTOBERFEST 2015 

video: Jill Gehring/YouTube